256. Memorandum From the Director of the Office of Northeast Asian Affairs (Parsons) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Robertson)1


  • Korean Force Reductions

The ROK Army has a current authorized force level of 720,000 men but an active force level, according to latest figures available to us, of 669,300. In answer to our force reduction proposals, the ROK has proposed force reductions of 60,000 men from the authorized 720,000 level, to consist of the deactivation of two army divisions and other units, including a Marine battalion. If latest figures of [Page 524] actual strength are correct, the resulting reduction might be only 9,300 men. We understand that FY 58 Military Assistance Program used a force level of 680,000 men.

The ROK has also proposed that the U.S. consider granting the ROK a list of specified weapons and equipment in connection with force reductions, in addition to the improved transportation-communications equipment, and conversion of one air wing into jet fighter-bombers already offered.

The proposed ROK defense budget for Korean FY 58 (calendar year 1958) did not take into account any force reduction; it is not clear what force level was used as a basis for this Korean defense budget as presented to the National Assembly. The proposed budget envisages a ROK contribution estimated at 71.2 billion hwan and a U.S. contribution of 105.94 billion hwan from PL 480, Section 402 and Direct Forces Support counterpart sources. The proposed budget provides for a 14% increase in pay and allowances. COMUS–Korea estimates that a reduction in 60,000 spaces in ROK forces would result in an estimated saving of 3.5 billion hwan. The Korean Minister of National Defense desires to utilize any funds saved by reductions for additional pay increases above those planned for Korean FY 58 and COMUS–Korea has supported this recommendation.

The ROK is obviously not prepared to accept a force reduction based on the deactivation of four divisions, as proposed by the U.S. It is not clear whether the ROK counterproposal for the deactivation of two divisions and other units, totalling 60,000 spaces, will result in dollar savings equivalent to those anticipated from a four-division reduction. The problem is further complicated by the ROK desire to utilize any hwan savings for additional pay increases and the ROK request for additional weapons and equipment, the cost of which is not known. We likewise do not know the extent to which this new equipment would be included in the surplus U.S. equipment in Korea which we are prepared to give the Koreans.

It is recommended that in your meeting with Mr. Sprague this afternoon you seek to obtain from him clarification on these points. The joint telegram from Ambassador Dowling and General Decker on this subject is attached.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 795.00/11–2557. Secret. Drafted by Barbis.
  2. A note on the source text indicates that Document 253 was attached.